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“Not Forsaken”: Renowned writer unpacks struggle to get novel’s title right

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In a recent interview, renowned author Ishmael Junorgh has shared insights into the intricate process of book writing and the significant weight placed on selecting a compelling title.

The author, speaking to Mark Smith on A1 Radio’s Daybreak Upper East Show, stressed the transformative power of reading, describing how it helps demystify the art of writing.

“[Reading] is the first and foremost step in understanding and unraveling the complexities of writing,” Mr. Junorgh explained.

The author, who has three novels to his credit, delved into the personal experiences that shaped his creative journey, recalling moments spent with elders that imbued their storytelling with depth and authenticity.

“Some of us grew up sitting on the laps of our great-grandparents, or our ancestors,” he recounted, underscoring the profound influence of these formative experiences.

The journey to finalize the book’s title was no less than a Herculean task, as Mr. Junorgh revealed contemplating over a thousand options before settling on “Not Forsaken.” Explaining the choice, he referenced a biblical quotation: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken.”

This phrase, he said, encapsulated the core themes of resilience and hope that resonate throughout the narrative.

The author’s decision-making process reached a dramatic climax just a day before the book went to print. “In fact, a day before the print, then I got the title,” he revealed.

The revelation of “Not Forsaken” as the definitive title brought a sense of relief and fulfillment to Mr. Junorgh, who had spent weeks searching for the perfect title for his work.

Not Forsaken is a story that follows the life of Abdulai. Abdulai is facing the challenge of not knowing his father. He comes from a typical northern upbringing in a patriarchal society.

The book explores whether Abdullahi can navigate life in a northern setting without a clear paternal identity while striving to become the first college graduate in his family. However, circumstances quickly escalate when Abdulai finds himself in a rapidly evolving romantic relationship that is on the brink of marriage.

As he prepares to pay the bride price for Alice, a sudden complication arises: two men appear in court, each claiming to be Alice’s biological father. This adds another layer of complexity to Abdullahi’s already uncertain background.

The case eventually requires DNA testing to determine paternity, although the author points out the limitations of DNA evidence in ensuring absolute certainty due to genetic similarities among family members. The story raises questions about cultural jurisdiction, as the matter is settled in a foreign court rather than a traditional African setting like a chief’s palace.

The core issue of the narrative revolves around defining fatherhood—is it purely biological, or does it encompass the role and responsibilities of nurturing and support? Readers are encouraged to contemplate these themes in “Not Forsaken,” which sheds light on the complexities of identity and family dynamics in a culturally nuanced context.

Source: A1Radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Bolgatanga

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